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Dragonfable: Critique on the Release of July 31, 2009

Posted by perpetualenigma on August 1, 2009

This week in the land of Lore, chaos is erupting everywhere. The little town of Ashenvale is being besieged by Drakonnan’s army of fire, and in Surewood Forest close to home, something is leeching out all the color from the plants. Things are shaping up to be yet another day in the life of the non-DA adventurer.

Ashenvale

About:

Yulgar (or rather, Cysero’s orb taking his place) informs us that Drakonnan’s army has hit one small town hard. Most of the townsfolk are trapped within their own burning homes by the fire elementals; our character must fight them off and rescue the people before Ashenvale really turns into ash. Not surprisingly, we agree to do so, and rush off to wherever the town is situated. We happen to arrive just before it combusts into a giant bonfire, and immediately scour every lane of the settlement for homes that are still accessible, fighting various fire monsters that bar the way. Once we clear out what houses we can of Drakonnan’s army, we depart from Ashenvale with the rest of the saved townsfolk and watch the town burn down into cinders.

Pros:

As an ordinary battling quest in itself, Ashenvale managed to deliver quite a bit. The lay-out of the town was complex enough to warrant exploration and back-tracks, and the task of clearing out what houses that we could provided a decent objective rather than a simple monster-bashing run through. In addition, the two new monsters introduced in this quest (the new Magman and the Fire Ray) were well drawn and animated, with eye-catching skills of their own. And upon the successful completion of this quest, we receive one out of a selection of curious hats, some which resemble popular video game and movie characters, while others looked like, well, toddler’s hats. At least they have some excellent statistics for their levels.

Cons:

However, as a quest within the Great Fire War saga, Ashenvale fails to truly deliver. For one thing, the quest is far too simple, from the large amount of full heals scattered around the houses in town (and just outside the village) to the lack of a time limit in saving the townsfolk (a burning town would never wait for a hero to finish rescuing the people). Neither were there any new cutscenes or conversations with NPCs at all; our character simply and mutely battled through the town like a medieval fireman.

And now to my personal favorite: discussing the plot. One question that immediately cropped up was why did Yulgar (or the orb) direct us to this inconsequential little town to protect its citizens from Drakonnan’s army? You would think that with the Fire Orb in his keep, the pyromancer would immediately raze the entire countryside as his predecessor Akriloth had done. It would not only allow him to eliminate more settlements; it would scatter the heroes he hated to be picked off one after another. What could have been implemented instead was a Fire War-part 3, where some new NPC instead of Demento would inform us of Drakonnan’s activities, and direct us to various small towns across Lore to defend against a range of new fire monsters. That at the very least, would make more sense in a Great Fire War. There was also a lack of continuity with this and the previous quest, when Demento died after revealing Drakonnan as the new villain. Our character was last seen mulling over what Konnan had become, and Galanoth was off slaying a dragon as an outlet to his grief; what else happened right after that? Did we send word to Yulgar of this new development, or did we silently re-join the other heroes on the ride to the west? Did we ever arrive in ‘Battleon’, and why not? There were plenty of unanswered issues that came with the beginning of this unprecedented quest, and rather than becoming clearer at the end, it just left me unsatisfied and still as muddled. And finally, the most important question of all: where would the plot go from here? We managed to rescue the folk of Ashenvale, but do we keep this up with other towns, or do we acquire some information from one of the citizens (and if so, why wasn’t it included in this quest)? Or, more than likely, we would just jump to another event in AQ’s Great Fire War, and only use the destruction of Ashenvale as an example of Drakonnan’s madness.

Grade:

This quest was not a bad one, but it was a let down from its two stellar predecessors. It almost feels like filler content, considering the saga to be the epic Great Fire War. Ashenvale deserves a 6.5/10 from me.

Never say Dye

About:

Rolith in Falconreach directs our character to Surewould Forest, where some suspicious activity is taking place. And we find out exactly what when we arrive in the woods: the lush colors of the plants are disappearing. We manage to find Robina (with the ever-present, still-dangling Sneegol) waiting for us by the waterfall. Earlier that day, she had heard a boom and felt the ground shake. And then the colors started to vanish from the ground and the trees; whatever it is hasn’t affected the bushes or flowers yet, but only time will tell. After a quick Cysero-like quip from us, we agree to look around Surewould to investigate. A quick round of battling woodland monsters later, we discover Dr. Voltabot in a clearing with a large, decrepit machine embedded into the ground, which would explode soon. (Apparently, the doctor could not properly calibrate the depigmentation mechanics properly.) Our character assumes that the decolorizing was part of the malfunction, until Dr. Voltabot informs us that that was the plan. He was commissioned by the Druids to acquire some all-natural plant dye to color their robes; they are concerned about having completely-organic clothing. But unfortunately, due to technical problems, the decolorizing cannot be reversed, unless Voltabot finds a colleague of his caliber to consult. The doctor refuses to seek the aid of the gnomes, so we agree to help him find a non-gnome source of help to recover the colors of Surewould.

Pros:

A short, simple and rather sweet quest. The artwork of the zone, though not quite as eerie as last week’s search through the forest for Demento, was nevertheless quite disconcerting: the green we had always attributed to Surewould was slowly being sucked out from the ground and the lower part of the trees, leaving behind nothing but drab, poorly-looking grays. We also get a chance to revisit some old monsters like the Bugbear, the Archeonaut, and the One-eyed Sluggy that spewed slime. The crux of the problem proved to be rather interesting, expressing an almost cynical view of how fanatic environmentalists (or all-natural product maniacs) may in fact lend a hand in destroying the planet. This was incorporated well into DF’s trademark levity, and provided the lead-up to a rather promising storyline; just how exactly would we find Dr. Voltabot a non-gnome colleague? And at the very end of the quest, as usual, were some well-designed weapon drops, unsurprisingly of the wood element for this case.

Cons:

It was an ordinary enough quest, with a run-through fight with several monsters, and ending in a surprising conclusion. My only complaint would have to be the little plothole in the story: why would Dr. Voltabot agree to help? Since he was commissioned by the Druids, and no doubt being paid by them, why would he consent to let us lend a hand in reversing the project? Sure, he may not wish for his machine to explode, but he could conceivably spirit himself far away enough to escape the big bang, and then build a better variation in private. And if he was really environmentally-concerned, then why had he built the machine in the first place? Perhaps the deal we struck with him of finding another technomancer was sufficient to make him change loyalties; if so, he gave very little indication of such, so the doctor’s true motivations remain ambiguous.

Grade:

Since this quest spawned off a new quest chain, there are very few expectations that it needed to live up to, and thus receives a favorable grade from me: 7.5/10.

Final Grade of the Release:

The two quests, considering the fact that we are in the middle of the Great Fire War, feel rather like filler material. Nevertheless, they are still decent quests in the aspect of adventuring. This week’s release deserves a 7/10 from me, Perpetual Enigma.

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13 Responses to “Dragonfable: Critique on the Release of July 31, 2009”

  1. Another excellent review once again, PE. You never fail to deliver. 🙂

    I definitely agree with your opinion on this week’s continuation to the Fire War. It definitely felt entirely like filler material, which in and of itself isn’t such a bad thing: If every quest had the amount of plot content as the last two quests had, then those very quests wouldn’t have created anything close to the amount of drama and surprise as they did. However, filler quests should still be expected to deliver something of relevance to the table, which is where I do find issue with the release. Although I am definitely intrigued to see where AE goes with this new Surewould chain, it certainly started off on the right foot.

  2. Great job PE!

    I agree with this release somewhat being filler. I suppose that th eonly reason AE pulled Ashenvale off the way they did was because that’s how things went in the original AQ, though what with the timeline split, they could have changed things to improve them. Still, next week should improve things.

    The new quest chain in Surewood looks great. I like the fact that the team is developing an area that admittedly hasn’t gotten an update in quite a long time. Good to see some more out of Robina and Voltabolt, they’re great characters that have a lot of potential, something this release helped to take advantage of.

    Also, there were more Hero Hats that just the school children variety. I was rather partial to the Linx Hat, or the Inconspicuous Hero Hat. The latter, non-DA, had very admirable stats, and actually looked pretty good, IMO.

    Once again, great blog post Enigma. You never fail to impress. 😀

  3. perpetualenigma said

    Thanks for being the first to comment, you guys. Neither of you ever fail me either.
    As for the Ashenvale quest, I would not have minded if there wasn’t as much drama as last week’s; what I wanted was a clear indication of where the storyline was to go. Perhaps a clue among the ruins could have been found, or some connection was made to ‘Battleon’ in the West. Since I haven’t played AQ, I’m just commenting on DF’s version in the most straightforward way possible.

    @ The Peanut Master
    I disappointed you…? 😦

    @ Alabamapitty
    Whoops! I’ll have to go back and check DF one more time. I must have played the Ashenvale quest four times, but kept getting that toddler’s hat.

  4. lemmy7003 said

    Yes, yes, fantastic blog post Enigma. This quest was okay….but it was lacking somewhat.
    When I entered the houses, I didn’t have to kill the enemies to get the people out.
    Nice Post!

    ~Lemmy, keeper of the timeline.

  5. Whoops, my bad PE, wrong choice of words in that sentence. It should make more sense now. 😉

  6. El Stergin said

    I would just like to point out to Lemmy that being able to rescue the towns people without fighting is a glitch, and will be fixed in the near future. Other than that I agree with everybody else opinions. But I did love the hats!

  7. orodalf said

    Battleon in the West? Battleon is in the East, exactly (or near) where Yulgar is situated right now.

    In any case, the One-Eyed Sluggy is not a new monster; it’s been present for quite a while.

    On the whole, though, great job! You pointed me out to a few things I had never considered before, i.e. “how fanatic environmentalists (or all-natural product maniacs) may in fact lend a hand in destroying the planet”.

  8. perpetualenigma said

    @ Orodalf
    Nuts, I meant ‘East’. My mistake there.
    On the other hand, where exactly would we find the One-Eyed Sluggy? I’ve played every quest available for free players, and haven’t come across it yet.
    Thanks for commenting by the way. The whole all-natural product maniacs/environmentalists thing was just something I observed from the remark on the druids, and the fact that they asked Voltabot to build a machine to leech all color. It might be the team’s intention to relay such a statement, but I’m not sure.

  9. orodalf said

    Well, it definitely existed, since the entry already existed for me to link to when I made the quest entry. XD

    For one thing, it’s in The Pit (that neverending quest in Amityvale). It was also in the War against the Irismancer.

  10. TW25 said

    Not really that important but you may want to watch how you throw around phrases like “chaos is erupting everywhere”. Thanks to AQW that has a much more literal meaning.

  11. orodalf said

    You may want to add the Ballyhoo release.

    • perpetualenigma said

      Unfortunately, I live in Asia, where the Shorts release isn’t available. It’s a real shame, as I would love to get some new weapons and DCs…

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